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A@W Newsletter

No limits to innovation in outer London

30 November 2023

While the centre of the city might garner much attention for its cutting-architecture and design, there are gems to be found in the outer boroughs of the UK capital too, from Barking in the east to Croydon in the south.


by Helen Parton


Innovation has no limits as far the outer reaches of London are concerned. Architects, designers, and other built environment professionals have been working on transformational schemes in and around the perimeters of the metropolis with some great current examples.


Industria is a vertical industrial space that responds to the loss of this building typology in London. © Fred_Howarth


In the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham in the east of the city, architects Haworth Tompkins, in collaboration with industrial specialist Ashton Smith Associates, has completed Industria, the UK’s first multi-storey light industrial scheme. The project comprises two linear wings arranged on either side of three levels of 26-metre-wide service decks, accessed via a helical ramp with direct vehicle access for the units utilised by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Each unit benefits from natural light and ventilation and can accommodate mezzanine levels to create bespoke interior layouts. There are several sustainability features within the project such as 2,000 sqm of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof and the scheme is expected to have a lifespan of over 100 years.


As part of the provision of amenity space, the Enclave building feature a Sky Garden across the 50thfloor, featuring dedicated entertainment and wellbeing spaces. © Paul Karalius


Down in Croydon, architectural practice HTA Design has completed Europe’s tallest volumetric tower. The development known as College Road features a 50-storey build to rent development with 817 apartments, called Enclave which HTA and volumetric developer Tide collaborated on, along with Tide’s sister company and volumetric manufacturer. College Road was the first co-living asset class to be approved by the Greater London Authority (GLA) under the London Plan. Design inspiration was taken from the nearby Brutalist architectural styles of the 1950s and 1960s particularly Richard Seifert’s NLA Tower in Croydon. Enclave features a variety of amenity spaces such as a spa, podcast, and Sky Garden. College Road also features a 35-storey building, providing 120 affordable homes.


A series of columns and walls by Adam Nathaniel Furman creates a ‘porcelain palace’. © Gareth Gardner


At the base of College Road, London-based artist and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman has created the Croydon Colonnade, creating a spectacular new public space. Sixteen eight metre high columns and walls are composed of handmade, three dimensional porcelain tiles. The columns feature two tile types and a striking colour gradient flowing along them from deep blue to paler shades further up each one to create an exciting rhythm to the space. Furman describes the project as a ‘porcelain palace for public space’ with this streetscape linking to a wider network of landscaped public routes between East Croydon Station and the cultural quarter.


A wildlife and wellbeing trail in Barking Riverside encourages visitors to discover the local flora and fauna. © Thierry Bal

From beautifully-designed built up areas, back in Barking a new wildlife and wellbeing trail has been delivered by Create London, which specialises in commissioning art and architecture, and funded by Barking Riverside Ltd. It features a series of architectural, graphic, and sound commissions that respond to the local landscape, taking residents and visitors alike on a journey to discover the endangered, protected and often hidden wildlife, from birds and bats to snakes and seals. The trail has been designed by emerging practice Channel Projects, led by architect Ryan Cook and graphic designer Studio Vandling. The project has incorporated the principles of circular design, repurposing discarded building materials from Barking Riverside construction work and derelict fencing excavated from local nature reserves into trail markers.


From encouraging SMEs to grow providing inspiring public realm and nature trail, London’s outer boroughs provide a wealth of positive change.

No limits to innovation in outer London
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